A favorite saying within NLP is: “we like what if familiar, yet we learn from what is unfamiliar”.
The psychological explanation: to extract something familiar from something unknown relieves, comforts, and satisfies us, besides giving us a feeling of power. With the unknown, one is confronted with danger, discomfort, and care; the first instinct is to abolish these painful states. First principle: any explanation is better than none. Because it is fundamentally just our desire to be rid of an unpleasant uncertainty, we are not very particular about how we get rid of it: the first interpretation that explains the unknown in familiar terms feels so good that one “accepts it as true.” We use the feeling of pleasure (“of strength”) as our criterion for truth. A causal explanation is thus contingent on (and aroused by) a feeling of fear. The “why?” shall, if at all possible, result not in identifying the cause for its own sake, but in identifying a cause that is comforting, liberating, and relieving. A second consequence of this need is that we identify as a cause something already familiar or experienced, something already inscribed in memory. Whatever is novel or strange or never before experienced is excluded. Thus one searches not just for any explanation to serve as a cause, but for a specific and preferred type of explanation: that which has most quickly and most frequently abolished the feeling of the strange, new, and hitherto unexperienced in the past — our most habitual explanations. Result: one type of causal explanation predominates more and more, is concentrated into a system and finally emerges as dominant — that is, as simply precluding other causes and explanations. The banker immediately thinks of “business,” the Christian of “sin,” and the girl of her love.
Twilight of the Idols, The Four Great Errors, paragraph 5
The Origin of our Conception of “Knowledge” — I take this explanation from the street, I heard one of the people saying that “he knew me,” so I asked myself: What do the people really understand by knowledge? what do they want when they seek “knowledge”? Nothing more than that what is strange is to be traced back to something known. And we philosophers — have we really understood anything more by knowledge? The known, that is to say, what we are accustomed to so that we no longer marvel at it, the commonplace, any kind of rule to which we are habituated, all and everything in which we know ourselves to be at home: — what? is our need of knowing not just this need of the known? the will to discover in everything strange, unusual, or questionable, something which no longer disquiets us? Is it not possible that it should be the instinct of fear which enjoins upon us to know ? Is it not possible that the rejoicing of the discerner should be just his rejoicing in the regained feeling of security ? . . . One philosopher imagined the world “known” when he had traced it back to the “idea”: alas, was it not because the idea was so known, so familiar to him? because he had so much less fear of the “idea” — Oh, this moderation of the discerners ! let us but look at their principles, and at their solutions of the riddle the world in this connection ! When they again find aught in things, among things, or behind things that is unfortunately very well known to us, for example, our multiplication table, or our logic, or our willing and desiring, how happy they immediately are! For “what is known is understood”: they are unanimous as to that. Even the most circumspect among them think that the known is at least more easily understood than the strange; that for example, it is methodically ordered to proceed outward from the “inner world”, from “the facts of consciousness” because it is the world which is better known to us! Error of errors! The known is the accustomed, and the accustomed is the most difficult of all to “understand” that is to say, to perceive as a problem, to perceive as strange, distant, “outside of us”. . . The great certainty of the natural sciences in comparison with psychology and the criticism of the elements of consciousness — unnatural sciences, as one might almost be entitled to call them — rests precisely on the fact that they take what is strange as their object: while it is almost like something contradictory and absurd to wish to take generally what
is not strange as an object. . . .
Gay Science Paragraph 355